Thailand is reopening, may offer hotel rooms for less than £1 per night in Phuket
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Have you already received the COVID-19 vaccine? Thailand is preparing to welcome you with open arms.
Come 1 July, the popular resort island of Phuket will reopen to fully vaccinated international visitors quarantine-free. Plus, in case white-sand beaches and turquoise waters aren’t enough of an incentive, the Tourism Council of Thailand is considering a “one night, one dollar” promotion that would offer foreign visitors $1 (less than £1) hotel rooms.
Here’s everything you need to know about Thailand’s reopening plan and the proposed campaign.
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Thailand’s reopening plan
In April, the Thai government detailed a tiered reopening plan. Since 1 April, foreign tourists travelling to the pilot provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chiang Mai and Pattaya have been permitted to enter if they have a vaccination certificate and quarantine for seven days in a hotel.
Then as of 1 July, foreign tourists arriving in Phuket who’ve received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be required to quarantine for seven days. In the third phase, starting 1 October, travellers arriving in the five aforementioned pilot areas will not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.
And finally, starting 1 January 2022, no foreign tourists arriving in Thailand will need to quarantine so long as they are fully vaccinated.
“There are people who are fully vaccinated and ready to travel,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the tourism authority of Thailand. “But they would only choose destinations that have vaccinated its residents and don’t require quarantine.”
The measure comes not a minute too soon for local tourism operators. Tourism is one of the nation’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a huge blow to the industry.
In January 2021, local hotel groups petitioned the Thai government to waive mandatory quarantine requirements for entering travellers had the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular international destinations, with a record of nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, according to the Bangkok Post.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused those numbers to plummet to just 6.8 million international arrivals in 2020, according to Reuters. Worse yet, the current predictions for Thai tourism only foresee 10 million international visitors in 2021, further affecting the country’s economic situation.
According to Supasorn, the island of Phuket expects about 100,000 visitors in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg reported.
Phuket’s ‘One Night, One Dollar’ campaign
In an effort to lure tourists back, the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has proposed a ‘One Night, One Dollar’ campaign, which would see the government subsidizing the cost of a guest’s first night. Under the plan, participating hotels will offer foreign tourists $1 (£0.70) rates for rooms that typically cost up to 3,000 Thai Baht (~£68) per night.
Assuming the plan gets approved, it would launch sometime in early June. According to the TCT, out of a total of 70,000 rooms on the island, nearly one million room nights would be made available as a part of this campaign.
If the campaign is successful, it may even be expanded to other destinations such as Koh Samui, Pattaya and Bangkok.
This won’t be Thailand’s first push for tourism during the pandemic. The Thai tourism department has also done its best to frame quarantine requirements in a positive light.
A prominent banner on the official website proclaims, “Amazing Thailand, Happy Quarantine” and encourages visitors to “change a boring quarantine into a joyous, relaxing time.” The Happy Quarantine program includes craft kits for quarantined arrivals, according to the Independent.
Still, no holidaymaker fantasises about visiting Thailand to create arts and crafts in a hotel room for two weeks, especially for travellers coming from halfway around the world.
Thai tourism limits incoming visitors to a shortened list of country-approved hotels, although the list spans some 200 properties across the nation, with more than 120 hotels in Bangkok alone.
As of now, travellers who can prove they’ve completed the full vaccination regimen will be considered eligible for quarantine dismissal on arrival in Phuket from 1 July. Plus, eligible travellers may soon be able to book hotel rooms for less than £1 for their first night.
Thailand isn’t the only country exploring updated travel requirements for vaccinated travellers. Other countries that are allowing fully vaccinated visitors to enter without undergoing quarantine include Belize, Croatia, Iceland, Seychelles and more.
Additional reporting by Katherine Fan, Victoria Walker and Emily McNutt.
Featured photo by Supoj Buranaprapapong / Getty Images.
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